Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Electric

Back to the Netherlands, a shot taken from the park near our home, and the 20th of mine to make Flickr Explore (the 500 most interesting shots of the day). A really great cloud formation, with the electricity lines providing a good subject rather than the distraction they often are. I went for black and white to further emphasize the line play in the sky.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1600)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 8.5 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

The hat shop

More of the softer side of German Expressionism: another great work by August Macke (1887-1914). Hat shops seem to have had a consistent attraction on him, and this is perhaps the best in his series on that theme. More on Macke in the wikipedia article linked to below.

Monday, June 29, 2009

For mentally disturbed teachers

Retro-rock is in, and Atlanta's Albinus jump on this with their debut album, For mentally disturbed teachers. Sceptics may point to a 35 minutes total playing time, but personally I prefer this over including fillers. Twelve hard hitting songs, soaring guitars, manic drums, and a hammond organ that must have taken some time to dust off. The lyrics are simple but that is fitting with their style. The album's closer, and their first single, is an intriguing cover of the Alice Cooper classic School's out. Give them a spin.

The idea of this little game is to create an album cover for an imaginary artist/group, as well as an imaginary review, following these instructions:

[1] The artist/group: go to the wiki random page generator. The first random Wikipedia article obtained this way is the name of the band or performer. In this case, I ended up with Albinus.
[2] The title: go to the random quotations site. The last four words of the very last quote of the page is the title of the album. The random quote that came up was by Woody Allen: My education was dismal. I went to a series of schools for mentally disturbed teachers.
[3] The illustration: pick a suitable one from my Flickr collection. My picture, Heads Up, can be found here on Flickr. The on-line editing was done with the programme On-line image editor, the font settings selected were Frosty 45 Black and BadaBoomBB 60 White, respectively.

Note: this is a variation on the "Debut album game" that has been making its rounds around bulletin boards and blogs for some time now - the original version called for a random Flickr Explore photograph to be used as the cover. I have been trying to find out who had the original idea, but so far no success.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bamboo street

It is really fun to browse your old Flickr favourites once in a while. I faved this shot by fellow Flickrite *Cak Noor* almost two years ago, and I had frankly forgotten it completely. Excellent black and white rendition of an unusual theme. And with bamboo running wild in our garden at the moment, the theme really appeals to me right now.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Friday, June 26, 2009

Finzi, concerto master

How many private classical music collections feature the British master Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)? Yet for me Finzi's works would rank in the best 3 concertos ever writen for two fairly regular solo instruments, the cello and the clarinet. I could have picked the Naxos CD featuring his cello concerto and assorted other works as well, but in the end I decided to go for the one that contains the beautiful pastoral clarinet concerto full of lyricism and charm, though somewhat anachonistic for its year (1949). The main work lasts about 26 minutes, but the other tracks are far from being filler. In particular the Romance for string orchestra is a gorgeous piece, but the four other short pieces are well worth exploring. Great sound and excellent performance by clarinet player Robert Plane and the Northern Sinfonia under Howard Griffiths. A must hear composer if you like the British pastoral classical music scene.

Amazon

Billie Jean (RIP Michael Jackson)

An unavoidable topic today. We will probably never know whether he was a twisted pervert or a supernaive manchild, but his music has made a great impact without doubt. Even though I do not like most of his output, the occasional song is well worth hearing. And none more than Billie Jean - a song I raped in a karaoke session in Shanghai last April. R.I.P.
Art Rock score: 8/10 (great song, I'd put it on my MP3 player)

YouTube

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fantastic

Sometimes you know the moment you take a shot: this will be one of the more popular ones you have taken. That happened to me last April when in the tourist trap that is Shanghai's Old Town I saw this stand selling fans. The combination of the shapes, colours and textures made this an obvious hit and my fellow Flickrites did not disappoint me: it became my 19th shot to reach Flickr Explore (the 500 most interesting shots of the day), and the second to make the top 100.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture: f/2.4
Focal Length: 7.2 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Miracle

Time for another splendid shot by my favourite photographer on Flickr, aftab. A beautiful scene, captured in great light and with a well-balanced composition. Maybe not spectacular, but all around a very professional and pleasing photograph.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

In absentia

If I elimnate the nostalgia factor of the decade I grew up in, I would have to admit that my all-time favourite rock group by now is no longer the prog version of Genesis or Pink Floyd, but Porcupine Tree. Their music is simply amazing, and their sense of art as evidenced by the album covers and the photographs on their web site is excellent as well. This cover is from their 2002 album In absentia, widely acclaimed as one of their best efforts. The stunning cover art is based on a photograph by Lasse Hoile.

All Music

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Starry sky

A recent work by my wife, and an obvious yet subtle hommage to Vincent van Gogh in the choice of colours and background - yet totally her own style. For those in Shanghai, this painting is currently exhibited at Nan chang Road 66, near the Yan dang Road in the Fuxing park area.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Monday, June 22, 2009

Morningmood

These buildings feature very often in my photostream, as I see them several times a day whilst walking the dog in the park near our home. However, I never saw them under the conditions depicted above until a few weeks ago: a beautiful blend of morning fog on the meadows and morning sunshine on the architecture.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.01 sec (1/100)
Aperture: f/3.5
Focal Length: 27.6 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Echo me

Another romantic image, evoking a dream feeling, by one of my favourite Flickr friends solea. This transcends regular photography into photoart, and quite effectively so.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sweetness forever

Macro photography is an area where I never really ventured into, also for lack of proper equipment. Most macro's on Flickr are honestly also not very interesting: shot after shot of flower close-ups with or without insects. It takes a real artist like my Flickr friend aftab. to come up with a great and original macro like this one. The subject? Sugar crystals, each no more than 1mm wide. The result? Simply fascinating helped by great composition and marvellous bokeh. A unique shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Photographers - overview

EDIT: obsolete, updated here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

True love is like light....

... it cannot be contained... just let it in. A beautiful title for an exquisite shot by my Flickr friend Ernesto Ortega. Well spotted as a photographic opportunity and flawless execution, with those leading diagonals. Subtle yet stunning.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Heading for the shore

After my previous swan family shot was snubbed by Flickr Explore, I was glad to see that this one, shot with the same subject in a slightly different setting a few minutes later (as they got closer to the shore), did make the cut. My 18th so far to get that distinction. It was also the admin's pick of the day in the Flickr group Winged Waterwonders.

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 23.9 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Follow your heart

More brilliance from my Flickr friend aftab. I love browsing his stream, not only because of the high quality of the shots, with more faves from me than I give to anyone else on Flickr, but also because of the diversity. Take this shot, unlike any of the others I faved. The original is a man performing on a swinging trapeze, but the beautiful postprocessing gives it an almost abstract like quality. Marvellous shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Tauschen gegen dich

When I selected Nur zu Besuch by Die Toten Hosen (literally Dead Trousers, a German euphemism for impotents or failures) as my all-time favourite German song, I was inclined to think that this beautiful rock ballad would be a once-off by this punk rock band. Fast forward to end 2008, and the release of their album In aller Stille. Amongst the usual rockers, we find a ballad that is almost as good as their first entry in my list of favourite songs. Tauschen gegen dich (Exchange for you) is an acoustic guitar dominated love song that is convincing and moving in its inherent simplicity. Marvellous song. And great video as well, prepared by a fan based on her own art.
Art Rock score: 10/10 (brilliant masterpiece, one of 200 best songs of all time)

YouTube

Friday, June 12, 2009

Shanghigh

A recent and rather deviating style painting produced by my wife during her stay in Shanghai. It is of a collage type, with one of her own oil paintings combined into a new piece of art.

The Art of Lu Schaper

Thursday, June 11, 2009

During a thunderstorm....

Or to give the shot its full title: "They say, that you shouldn't be out on a plain field during a thunderstorm". The things we photographers do for our creativity... I was surprised to see that my Flickr friend Philipp Klinger has only featured once so far in my blog. High time to rectify that, and what shot would be better suited for that than this beauty. A deserved #1 shot in Explore.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

The visitor

For some reason, this beautiful cover of Arena's 1998 neo prog album The visitor always reminds me of the paintings of Magritte. A very classy design, even leaving out any reference to band or album title.

All Music

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Swan lake

Swans feature often in my photostream. but this is one of the most satisfactory swan shots I have taken so far - courtecy of the cygnets of course. I had been stalking this swan family for a few days, and one day they finally came close enough to the shore of the lake near our house to catch them. Makes a great wallpaper as well (original size 2160x1719 is available on the Flickr page).

Camera: Canon PowerShot Pro1 8 Megapixels, handheld
Exposure: 0.001 sec (1/1250)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 50.8 mm
Post-processing: Picasa 3.0

Flickr

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Rebel without a clue

Perhaps the most stunning shot I have seen this year on Flickr - and as so frequently in recent weeks, my Flickr friend aftab. is to blame for yet another favourite. I love everything about this shot, the atmosphere (so enhanced by the almost monochrome treatment), the depth of field, the curves, the composition. Simply amazing shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Top 200 artists of the 20th Century to now

Lists like these always end up in controversy, but at least the Times Top 200 Artists of the 20th Century to Now overview is based on a respectable amount of readers' votes: 1.4 million! Fellow blogger Art Ravels has also given her thoughts on the list recently, and I will put a few of my reactions here as well.
First off, I found it sobering, yes even humiliating, that I did not recognise four of the top 20 at all, let alone if you go further down the list. Also after I checked them at wikipedia, these names did not ring a bell: Robert Rauschenberg, Constantin Brancusi, Jasper Johns and Martin Kippenberger. Oh well, learning all the time.
It is of course unavoidable that some artists score higher than you would put them yourself, but in several cases you can see why others would think otherwise. From the top 10, Picasso, Cezanne, Matisse and Mondrian would be in that group. On the other hand, I think several others are really ranked too high (Duchamp and Warhol have been influential but lack artistic depth to be top 10 material - in my opinion of course).
It is very human of course to also focus on the names that are not there, and especially since there are 200 listed on the Times site, you would expect your own favourites to make the cut if they are not too obscure. However, my all-time favourite artist is not there at all: Franz Marc. Also surprisingly absent are the likes of Macke, Lempicka and Zhao. On the positive side, I notice with pleasure top100 scores for artists like Richter and Kiefer, and even a top 10 for de Kooning.
In the end of course it is nothing more than a list reflecting the taste of a lot of people. It does not mean that these are the greatest artists. Like I refuse to acknowledge that winners of similar popularity contests are the best ever - think Beethoven's 9th for classical music, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody for rock songs, Beatles' Sergeant Pepper for rock albums - this list has no effect on your own appreciation. It is fun though to explore so many unfamiliar names - and that's for me the real value.

web site

Monday, June 08, 2009

Escape bid

This is not the first time that my Flickr friend jenny downing features in this category, and I am sure it will not be the last time. A really wonderful symbolic shot, with excellent dof and a great title. I shot something similar in Shanghai, but with a result that is orders of magnitude less impressive.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr

Hindemith, Vorsprung durch Technik

This title came to me from a German car commercial (Advantage by technique), and I think it fits the well-known but not highly popular German composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963). After all, he wrote a theoretical book The Craft of Musical Composition , which lays out his unique compositional technique in detail. His style developed from late romantic through expressionist to neo-classical, ending in a complex contrapuntal musical language. This Naxos CD presents two of his best and most famous works. The 1934 symphony Mathis der Maler is based on musical themes from his opera of the same name, depicting the life of the painter Matthias Grünewald. It has a majestic feeling about it, and for me this is one of the best symphonies composed in the post-Mahler era. Perhaps his most popular work is the Symphonic Metamorphoses of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber (1943), based on melodies from various works by Weber. Next to these two, my favourite Hindemith conmpositions are the requiem When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed, and the viola concerto Der Schwanendreher. On this CD, Naxos have opted for another worthwhile work, the 1938 ballet music Nobilissima Visione. The performance by the New Zealand Symphony orchestra under Franz-Paul Decker is top notch, and the sound is excellent. A great introduction to a 20th century composer who should be part of any larger classical music collection.

Amazon

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Snowy owl

Swans may be the most photographed birds on Flickr, but I always have a week spot for good owl pictures. And this one by my Flickr friend knips2007(Rainer) is as good as they come. Wonderfully captured, with that gorgeous monochromic blurred background. A really great shot.

All rights retained by the photographer.

Flickr